Story of Farming 


Development of Farming



European (middle ages)







Development of Cities















































Africa Farming Development

This page is raw research notes organized by location in Africa.  The development of African Farming is the focus of the page.  

Africa is a very large continent and hosts many different climatic zones. Because of this, each area will beAfrica addressed separately due to each being developed differently. North Africa deployed mostly Mediterranean style farming and crops. The Eastern complex is credited with the domestication of coffee, sourghum, and watermelon. The Western Savanna complex had two different patterns develop. On the East bank of the Bandama river, the people ate rice while on the west, their main staple was yams. Each side of the river saw very different cultural developments. In South Africa, mostly hunter-gather villages were established with some existing even to modern times.


General Customs and Farming Techniques

"Among the herdsmen who grow hardly anything but winter cereals, the ownership of water is collective, and each man has these of a certain amount of water and a plot of land providing he has a team of draught animals and a plow. If the type of agriculture changes and wheat and barley are replaced by trees, the ground becomes the defactor private property, while the water remains the property of the group, one man’s share of water cannot be sold and if it is not used it reverts to the group." (pg. 223)(10F)

Simple dams are used in mountain areas to trap water. They are called rabta or sedd and are dikes made or branches or stones.  Only those who helped make the irrigation’s systems have the right to use the water. (10F)

Not many terraces are found in this area even though they are common around the Mediterranean. (10F)

Terraces are not used probably due to the fact that plowing is done with "swing plows drawn by two oxen harnessed together to a very wide yoke which rested on the animals withers and would be difficult to turn in narrow fields." (pg. 225) (10F)

Sheep and sometimes cattle were raised in the winter. (10F)

Land has been adversely effected in this area very heavily by war and conquest. (10F)

Crops were rotated every other year to preserve the land - common across the area. (10F)


Eastern Complex of Africa


There was good agriculture that supported the cultures of Mali, Ghana, Nok, Ife and Benin. These cultures grew cereals, oil crops and vegetables. They also cultivated stimulants and medical plants used in their religions. (3F)

From this area coffee, sorghum, millet, and watermelon were domesticated. (3F)

Findings from 12,500 to 10,500 suggest that villagers grew grains since grinding wheels were found. Blades, which are similar to a modern sickle, had also been found. (3F)

Savanna Complex

Here crops show a very dispersed pattern with no cohesion between different areas like in the Eastern Complex. Here only crops such as sorghum grew well in the savanna climate. (3F)

"Pearl millet is one of the most drought-resistant of all the crops and becomes the dominant one near the fringes of the Sahara." (pg. 198) (3F)

"In the Ivory Coast, people on the right bank of the Bandama River eat rice. People on the left eat yams. Each crop is very deeply enmeshed in the culture of the people. Rice eaters do not feel they have eaten a meal unless rice is served. Yams are central, not only in the diets of the Yam-eating tribes, but also in their ceremony, ritual, myth and folklore." (pg. 202) (3F)

The city of Benin in West Africa was the center of the Edo people.  Their main crop was yams and was grown in with a slash and burn technique.  After the harvest of the yams a special ceremony, agwe, had to take place before anyone could eat the newly harvested yams.  (16F)

Rice allowed the Guinea people to expand because they were able to have excess food. (3F)

"1500 BC During the 18th Dynasty of Egypt, Queen Hatshepsut sent an expedition to Punt, thought to be somewhere on the horn of Africa. It was the first government-sponsored plant exploration expedition in recorded history. She had built a temple at Deir El Bahari and switched to establish incense trees on the terraces. " (Pg. 204) (3F)

North Africa

The coast of North Africa has about 50 inches of rainfall a year - good for normal crops to grow. It decreases as you travel south into the desert region. (2F)

Carthaginians developed the area and grew as many crops as the Romans in Italy.(2F)

Carthage had 1 million people during its peak, which is the most people of any time since. They developed one of the best methods in farming. Romans translated work on farming, which had 28 volumes, into Latin. (2F)

During Pax Romana, soil and lands were very heavily used by the Romans, which after several generations, hurt much of the land. (2F)

Irrigation in the dry areas of the north were done by springs and shallow wells brought by delou which is a water skin of ox-hide or goat skin or by a noria which is an endless circle of wood with scoops attached to bring up water. (10F)

South Africa Area

"In the South Busmen were masters of art of survival. With short bows and fragile arrows, made lethal with a wide variety of poisons, and with ingenious snares,  with traps and decoys they were deadly hunters; with traps and spears they fished the rivers; with simple digging sticks they collected a variety of edible roots, fruits, herbs, insects, reptiles, eggs, honey and other wild food" (pg. 301) (10F)